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Measles alert in Hawke’s Bay

6 March 2014

Measles alert in Hawke’s Bay

Two young New Zealand men, who recently travelled overseas, have been diagnosed with measles in Hawke’s Bay.

Both are now well, out of isolation and were not hospitalised.

These are the first confirmed cases of measles in Hawke’s Bay since 2012.

Medical Officer of Health Caroline McElnay said exposure to other people in Hawke’s Bay was unlikely, but possible.

Dr McElnay said those people who had flown with these two passengers on Air New Zealand from Brisbane to Auckland on Flight NZ136 leaving Brisbane at 11:15am on Sunday 23 February, and sat nearest to them would be followed up by public health either in Auckland or by their own public health service.

“However because measles is an infectious, airborne disease, we want everyone to be vigilant, and make sure vaccinations are up-to-date.”

It can take 10-14 days for someone who has caught measles to start showing any symptoms.

Measles symptoms include a high fever, cough, runny nose, red eyes and a rash that starts on the face and neck before spreading elsewhere. The rash is not itchy and fades during the first week. A person with measles looks and feels unwell and about 10 percent of people with measles need admission to hospital.
Measles is more serious in young infants and in older adults, as well as people with low immunity.

There have been 79 confirmed cases of measles reported in New Zealand since the end of December 2013 which includes the two recent cases in Hawke’s Bay.

Measles can be a serious illness, Dr McElnay said. “There is no treatment. The only way to avoid catching measles is to have had two measles vaccines after your first birthday.”

She urged anyone uncertain of whether they or their family were vaccinated to check with their GP to see if they were protected.

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